All Aboard for Picture Book Month

Picture book month is coming to a close, but big celebrations, surprises, and planning are happening in the Barrow Media Center.  Just today, I have been brainstorming with teachers about upcoming units and almost every grade level is preparing to begin persuasive writing.  We are thinking of sponsoring a writing contest in the media center where students write persuasive essays on the importance of picture books, but I’m still playing around with this idea and what I might actually make the “topic” of the contest be.

Also, today, I was surprised to find an envelope in my box with a donation from a group of community members in honor of someone’s birthday.  I was able to order several new picture books (and chapter books) to add to our collection.

Finally, a big surprise arrived at our school today:  an autographed copy of The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.  Mrs. Lori Frumkin used to be a teacher at our school and is now working with the Chicago Public Library.  She heard Chris Van Allsburg talking about is books to several groups, and she remembered how special Polar Express Day is at Barrow and got a copy of the book autographed for our school.  Thank you so much, Mrs. Frumkin!

We are planning our Polar Express Day for December 15th and decorating has begun.  We’re also planning a Polar Express Alumni Night.  Later this week, Mrs. Rockholt and I will be preparing hundreds of certificates for students who participated in picture book month.  What an exciting time!

Book Choice Champions Unpacking Time

Today, the 11 boys of the Book Choice Champions enrichment cluster gathered today to unpack the first shipment of books that they ordered for the library.  Each student had a job to do during this process which included:

  • Unpacking books and checking for damage and correct processing
  • Highlighting the packing slip
  • Stamping books with the media center stamp
  • Displaying books on tables
  • Taking pictures of books for marketing on BTV and our enrichment fair
  • Repacking books into boxes for the enrichment fair

It was an efficient process that took about 20-25 minutes.  Two students agreed to come back during their lunch & recess to work on an Animoto video of the books and a video of the process.  Here’s their final products:

 

The Book Choice Champions will share their process at our enrichment fair tomorrow Tuesday November 29, 2011 at 5:25PM at Barrow Elementary.  Once the fair is over, these students will have first choice of the books to checkout and the remaining books will be available for checkout Wednesday morning.  I can’t wait to see how fast they all get checked out this time!

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Fourth Grade Folktale Collaboration

Each mask was created in art and is accompanied by a student-written story developed in class

As a part of 4th grade’s Native American unit, they studied folktales.  They spent weeks reading a variety of folktales from around the world as well as Native American folktales.  In the media center, they used Google Earth on the iPads to examine the regions of the United States where the Native Americans are found.  They noticed what landforms and water features were in each area.  Then, I told folktales from each tribe and they noticed how the land and regions came into each story.

In class, students continued to read folktales and examine the elements of each kind of folktale.  They began to develop their own story and implement these elements into the stories.

In art, the students designed masks that accompanied their tales.

The process was long and spread out over several months, but we are excited to finally have the finished products on display in our media center.  If you happen to be near Barrow Elementary in the coming weeks, feel free to stop in and read some of these stories and examine the beautiful masks.

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Picture Book Month Guest Readers

To continue our celebration of Picture Book Month, we had guest readers come today and read picture books to several of our classes from PreK-5th grade.  Some guest readers chose to bring their own selections while others chose books from our collection.  We would like to thank all of our readers for taking the time out of their busy day to stop by the Barrow Media Center and share the love of reading with our students.  We love having the community in our school!

Thank you to:

Paul Kurtz

Lauren McElhannon

Keith Weaver

Rachel Watkins

Ralph Stephens

Kevin O’Neil

Some of the book selections included:

Thank You Sarah:  The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving

Click Clack Moo Cows that Type

13 Words

Crazy Hair

Scaredy Squirrel

Brer Rabbit Stories

Hooray for Amanda and her Alligator

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We look forward to our next big guest reader day on March 2nd.

Media Center Buzz November 18, 2011

As I’m thinking about redesigning the Barrow Media Center for our new school, I’m trying to periodically document through pictures and videos how the media center is currently being used.  I’m trying to think about what is working in our space, what’s not working, and what could be happening.  Here’s a look at the video that I captured today when approximately 100 students were in the media center at the same time.

Media Center Buzz November 18, 2011

Book Choice Champions Final Steps

The Book Choice Champions, a group of 11 boys in 2nd-5th grades, finalized their project today.  Their job has been to use a budget of $1500 to purchase books for the media center that are about topics that students are interested in.  They’ve been through a long process, including surveying 199 students at our school.  Last week, they finalized their book order and now we are waiting on it to come in.  Today, the boys made some final pieces to advertise the books as well as show people the process they went through.  Some worked on posters.  Others made a commercial for BTV, while others worked on an Animoto of the process.  Even though today was our last official meeting, several of the boys want to continue meeting to plan ways to promote the books to the school.  One idea was to take pictures of all of the books and make another Animoto for BTV.  Here is the Animoto that they made today to show the process that they went through.

Book Choice Champions.

Guest Book Review: Grandma’s Gift

We are so excited to have teachers participating in our National Picture Book Month Celebration.  Teachers have been sharing books on our morning broadcast show each morning.  Also, Mrs. Kelly Hocking is doing a guest post on our blog today to review one of her new favorite books.  Enjoy her review.

Picture Book Review by Kelly Hocking

Grandma’s Gift by Eric Velasquez

Have you ever read one of those books that just has so much in common with your life that you just can’t believe it?  Well, that’s what the book Grandma’s Gift by Eric Velasquez was like for me.  I picked it up because the apartment on the front cover reminded me of the apartment my Dad grew up in.  I have fond memories of it because my Dad grew up in New York City, and so when we visited my grandparents, we got to go to that big amazing city.  You can imagine how surprised I was when I started to read the book, and sure enough, it WAS New York City.  The little boy, Eric, had a grandma in the city, just like me!  Eric had a school assignment over the Christmas Holiday to go see a painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  My Grandpa worked there as a guard when I was a child, and, just like Eric, I was so inspired by a painting I saw there once that I decided I would go to art school when I grew up…and I did—and so did Eric (in real life.)

Not everything in this book reminds me of myself.  You see, Eric has to translate everything for his grandma.  She is Puerto Rican and cannot read English.  At one point, Eric says he feels like he’s “going to school for two.”  I don’t know how that feels, but that’s why I read books, to try to feel what other people might feel so I can understand them better.  Eric and his grandma feel pretty uncomfortable in parts of the city because no one looks or speaks like them.  They feel much more at home at “ LaMarqueta,” the market in their neighborhood where everyone speaks Spanish and looks more like they do.  Grandma is famous for her Christmas “pasteles,” a delicious Puerto Rican dish that she would serve and even share with all the people in her neighborhood.  My mouth just watered at the description of how Eric and Grandma made the little bundles.  I could smell them in their oven as they baked.  I could swear little puffs of fragrant steam were radiating off that page.  If only I could find that recipe.

That same grandma of mine who raised 7 children (my Daddy being the baby) in a small apartment in New York City once told me to always read EVERY page of a book.  “Don’t stop where the story stops.  There could be a secret just for you on one of the pages about the author or even on the back cover.”  Many times, this little reading tip has led me to my next book.  But this time, it led me to something yummier.  Guess what I found as I went on to read the “Author’s Note?”  I not only found out more about the author (who was really the little boy in the story,) I found a web site that has the recipe for the very pasteles that Grandma and Eric cooked.  You don’t have to guess what I’m making this Christmas to share with my family.  Mmmmmm, I can smell them already!